Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Will Wonders Never Cease?

I now have proof that miracles (while not an awesome religious miracle but surely, by definition, a wonder or a marvel) really do happen.  Our school closed because of the snow today.  I know for many of you who have snow days all the time that this comment may not sound like much but, to us, this news was truly miraculous because our school has not had a snow day in close to six years.  That's right, folks, six years.  It is not because we do not have big snow storms here in MN, it is just that we are expected to make it school whether the sun is shining or we have white-out conditions and 16 inches of snow in the forecast.  Since moving here from the east coast, we have had to develop a kind of 'take no prisoners' approach to getting to school.  Mailmen have nothing on me as I have driven to school in rain, snow and sleet the likes of which I have never seen before--not to mention traveling on side roads so covered in inches of rock-solid ice that my SUV would be some serious competition on Skating with the Stars.

Seeing the cancellation on the internet and then getting that confirmation call was like Christmas all over again.  Once my children got over their initial shock, it was party central here.  What a happy leap day this is because we finally got a snow day.  Of course, I wish I could bottle this feeling as once we return to the east coast, where snow days are plentiful and occur even with the mere threat of snow, I might not be so euphoric when snow is in the forecast.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Snow, Snow, Go Away!

Everyone is talking about the big storm that is going to hit our area over the next two days.  We talk about it as if it isn't Minnesota, no less.  In our defense, we have been lulled into a snow- less euphoria given that this much anticipated large snow event, our first of the season, is happening at the end of February and not the start of December.  We have been spoiled by 'balmy' temperatures and driving on asphalt that is black and not covered in three inch thick ice as it usually is at this point in winter.  It has been, in a word, heaven.

Tonight, however, the calm is gone and I am already worrying about cleaning the driveway and the steps, getting the children to school on time and whether or not our contractor will be able to get here to finish up the work he started last week.  When we lived on the east coast, school snow days were plentiful so much so that I would dread even the threat of snow as sometimes that is all it took for a closure to happen.  Anticipated snow fall totals threw headmasters and principals alike into a frenzy of second guessing whether a school should merely delay opening or close completely. With this storm promising to bring snowfall totals in the double digits, I yearn for a snow day now, but since our school prides itself on not having had a snow-related closing in 8 years--give or take--I had better have those shovels at the ready because I have a sinking feeling school will be in session.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


For the better part of the day, my brain was thisclose to imploding, quite literally collapsing on itself in a pain-infused heap ultimately giving into the throbbing, vice-like ache that are my migraines.  I have often told my husband that during these episodes I would like nothing more than to carefully remove my brain, gently wash it in the sink in warm, soapy water, cradle it dry in a fluffy towel and then place it in a soft bed (on lots of fluffy pillows) and let it rest in a darkened room.  Of course, what generally happens is that I have an action-filled day complete with tons of errands, annoying salesclerks and a steady dose of Excedrin popping that seems to do nothing for the migraine but wreaks havoc on my already queasy stomach.

I have read more literature and talked to more doctors who emphasize and re-emphasize the importance of learning your 'migraine triggers' so that they can be avoided.  The most obvious for me is stress.  My house just hit the market, our contractor is coming tomorrow, my youngest is complaining of a headache and I already have at least five 'must do' things this weekend--not to mention potential house showings. Something tells me that I need to start mainlining Excedrin right now!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wet Snow

Last night it snowed for the first time in I cannot tell you how long.  Big, wet flakes started falling around 7 o'clock and then the wind kicked in and started sending the snow laterally across the sky.  It quickly blanketed the ground and the streets giving all it touched that beautiful 'winter wonderland' look.  When I took our dog out, the world seemed so quiet. The reflection of the moonlight on the snow was so bright, it lit up the corridor straight into our backyard.  The snow was still falling then but I did not mind as it was not overly cold and I was happy thinking of myself walking through what appeared to be a giant snowglobe.

Then morning came and did my perspective changed.  Now that snowglobe needed to be shoveled and we needed to leave early for school as anyone who drives knows that once a flake falls, people forget how to drive.  Immediately after breakfast, my children headed outside to start shoveling.  Those beautiful flakes were now a wet mass of almost 4 inches of extremely heavy snow that needed to be cleared.  My youngest, a boy with an amazing work ethic, immediately threw his entire body behind his shovel and started clearing snow better than any plow I have ever seen.  I headed outside to help and together we cleaned the entire driveway in record time ( my back is sore enough to prove it).  As I was doling out well-deserved praised, I realized that I was a child short.  Didn't I have another child, a brand spanking new teenager at that who could have certainly helped to lighten this heavy load? 

A quick check inside and I knew I had been right.  I did, indeed, have another child conspicuosly absent from the shoveling trio I had been working with outside.  Thankfully, my new teen quickly allayed my concerns as to why he was not outside helping his siblings by explaining--quite artfully and articulately, I might add-- that gamers don't shovel snow.  Well, that explains that. Now I understand! That said, after a brief but pointed explaination as to the error in his logic, I firmly believe I will have an extra pair of 'gamer hands' ready to assist with the next snowfall removal.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This Is Justice?

I am so angry, annoyed, frustrated, fill in the blank with all the negative adjectives you know and I am all that and more.  A little backstory as to the reason why.  Two years ago, my purse was stolen from my car.  I reported it to the police but really thought it was just some random teenager seizing an opportunity.  Boy, was I mistaken.  I could not have had the 'luck' to have been robbed by a teen, oh no, I was robbed by a supposed criminal kingpin the police had been trying to capture for two years.  As if that was not enough, several months later I got the shock of a lifetime when I opened my mailbox and found a subpoena.  Now, I don't know how much you know about subpoenas but let me tell you what I learned since I started getting them (more on that in a minute).  Once you get a subpoena, you basically lose your rights.  Afraid to testify?  Prefer to be deposed?  Too bad, the alleged criminal has the right to face his/her accuser. Moving?  The court will call you back to testify.  Don't fly?  The court will put you on a train--so what if it takes two days to get there for a 20 minute testimony.  What about your children?  Too bad, find childcare.  Get the picture?

Now, back to the multiple subpoenas.  I am testifying in not one but two trials--apparently the 'alleged kingpin' has a girlfriend who shares his profession. You must understand that my annoyance stems not from not wanting to 'do the right thing' but, rather, from being plagued by continuances.  I have yet to testify despite being sent 9 subpoenas--the girlfriend's trial has been postponed 6 times and her paramour's 3 times thus far. I was just notified that the trial I had been emotionally prepping for next week has been continued yet again as the judge has recused himself from the trial.  Why, you might ask?  I was told 'no one knows.'  I doubt that.

The bigger issue is that I am never able to put these trials behind me, to cross them off my list and move forward without them looming ahead of me all the time.  I am victimized each time the court postpones the case whether it be for the third firing of an attorney, an attorney not 'being ready' (try that one at work some day...tell your boss you are just not ready and see how that works for you) or because someone will not take the plea deal and the court decides to postpone the case.  These alleged criminals are out on bail perhaps victimizing other people but they seem to have more rights than I do.  I keep having to remind myself that I am just the innocent victim and I lost my rights the day I got that first subpoena.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whose House Is It Anyway?

I love to buy houses.  One could say I am house-obsessed as I go on as many home tours as possible and although I am not a fan of TV watching, I love HGTV.  My family can sometimes find me 'talking' to the couple on House Hunters explaining to them how a one bathroom home in need of renovations is not the best choice for parents of two with another on the way.  I feel compelled to counsel the young couple wanting that 'city vibe' that, although the loft apartment looks very chic and modern, once the honeymoon period is over, the train right outside the window is going to sound very loud.

On the other hand, nothing instills fear in me more than selling a home what with the requisite de-personalization that is necessary, the de-cluttering and all those people opening your closets and cabinets and discovering how you live.  It sends shivers down my spine.  Of course, I have good reason to be scared as each and every time we have sold a home we have been faced with all sorts of weird and annoying problems but our last sale topped them all.  I had the usual realtor issues like having a realtor show up not once but twice without an appointment, each time in the middle of dinner.  She knew she had not called me and I knew she had not called, heck, even the clients knew judging from how uncomfortable they looked, but what could I do?  Through gritted teeth I told my brood that we had company and they ate their dinner while the house was being shown. 

That incident paled in comparison to what happened next.  In a poor market, we had three offers in eleven weeks and we chose what we thought was the best offer.  We were sitting pretty or so we thought.  The only thing the realtor forgot to mention to the buyers was that they needed to bring the money to the closing.  We were not present at our closing so imagine my surprise when I called our attorney to find out how everything had gone and was told that the buyers had gone to the closing without the money.  Now I  know you are probably thinking it begs the question 'what were they thinking' but I thought it begged the question were they crazy?  Hey, I watch HGTV, remember, and this is part of the Buying Real Estate 101 course--you need money to buy the house you fall in love with, okay?  Who shows up to a closing without the money?

I am a believer in ripping the bandage off quickly, take the pain up front, don't take it off slowly and prolong the agony.  I hope our current attempt at selling our home goes just like that--fast, a little 'ouch' and then it will be over.  Also, having the buyers show up with money in hand will be a nice change for us as well.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How To Choose A School

When I was ready to attend school, my parents had only one of two choices.  I was either going to the local public school or to the local Catholic school.  Simple.  They did not to spend weeks agonizing over their options; they had a fifty-fifty shot at making the right choice for me and they enrolled me in the public school.  Of course, as I started second grade, a very wise teacher pulled my mom aside and told her she was doing me no great favor by keeping me in that school (apparently, teachers at the time, or at least this one, were not hung up on being PC) and so I transferred to the Catholic school.  Again, simple, no harm, no foul, no long term lasting effects from my brief stint in the public school at all.

Fast forward to the present.  When we moved to MN, I did a lot of online research for schools for my children in an effort to match what we felt was a stellar academic and social atmosphere at their old school.  From the beginning of the search, I knew that there was only going to be one school for us and knowing that, I only chose  houses close to that school.  Again, simple, four children, one school.  Done.

Now we are relocating to an area that seems to have schools so great in number that they rival the number of particles of dust on my new black car.  Rare is the k-12 school which would make my life infinitely easier, so I now need to research both elementary and high schools.  Add to this the fact that we really don't know which area we will be living in and I need to have all my bases covered.  Because there are so many choices, I am terrified of missing out on the best school. Say I stop calling at school number 30--what if the 31st school has everything I really want?  How will I be able to live with myself knowing I gave up too soon? 

The search for high schools is even worse because, as my eldest pointed out, his is the more important school in preparation for college.  The job is daunting enough but he also has many needs and wants which he loves to share with me anytime we are together.  He also asks me questions about the schools as if I can keep them all straight, information catalogued and accessible whenever he requires it dispensed.  Little does he know that I can barely keep it together even with all my notes in front of me.

I always hear people say that you always have choices in life but this time, I just have too many.  I have become a school research addict in desperate need of a twelve-step program.  I swear, a few more days of this and I will be ready to homeschool. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I honestly don't think my brain can hold anymore information.  Nope, I just checked and I cannot fit one more tidbit.  We are now officially in 'moving mode' and this is a dynamic that I am all too familiar with given our life circumstances these past few years.  Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about heading back 'home' but the steps required to attain that prize sometimes make me more than a little anxious.  Take today, for instance.  Our life here is certainly not suspended while we plan our move so, simultaneous to trying to find a short-term rental for my husband and secure dates in two states--it is a long thirteen hundred mile plus drive home--for our stay home next month, we are also doing school projects, getting my daughter's hair cut, checking out houses on the web, walking the dog, refereeing arguments about various and sundry things and making mental lists of all that needs to be transferred to paper before I forget it.  The realtor to call, the contractor's visit, a doctor's appointment and the mover are all on my list for this week.  Did I mention that I am also chairing an event at school next month?  Great idea to keep myself occupied while hubby was unemployed, now, not so much!

My brain is functioning like a factory--not a high-tech, fully-automated factory of the present but, instead, the overheated, smoke-spewing factory of old.  I know I am churning out plenty of products but I am certain there is a more efficient way of getting all these things accomplished.  I know. I will add 'streamlining my life' to my 'to do' list.  Now, if only I could find a spare moment to write that down, I would be golden.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Has Happened To Me?

If you ask my friends (and my husband and definitely my mom) I am sure they would tell you that I can be a tad pessimistic but I would argue this point as I believe that there is a line, albeit a fine one at times, between pessimism and just simply being realistic.  I embrace the fact that I will never be considered a 'glass half-full' kind of gal, but I also know that I am not perpetually walking around with a dark cloud over my head like in one of those prescription anti-depressant ads we so often see on television.  One thing we can all agree on, however, is that no one would ever consider me to be an optimist...until now.

After having lived through (okay, suffered through) my husband's two year bout of unemployment, we will be moving to Boston.  Being from the east coast and desperately trying to return since our move here, I am on cloud nine.  Moving is not simple in any situation but, add the fact that my husband will not be around for the mayhem ( interesting how that works, no?) plus add multiple children and a dog to the mix and you have the makings for a full-blown, months' long, migraine-filled pain fest.  While others might be cowering in their shoes,  I cannot wait to get started.  Don't get me wrong, our time here has been both interesting and fun but, unless you have lived through long-term unemployment, you cannot understand the feeling of euphoria when faced with the prospect of being 'normal' again.  While nothing has changed yet beyond the knowledge of what is to come, I feel so different that I am sure everyone can tell something terrific is happening for us.  I caught sight of myself in a store mirror the other day and I actually looked happy.  I hardly recognized myself!

Everything has changed for us and the world seems a brighter place right now.  The albatross has been lifted from our shoulders and, dare I say it?  I am quite optimistic about our future.